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Grant Reilly


19th February 2021


Digital Inclusion: Connecting residents in Scotland’s care homes

Since November 2020 the TEC programme at Scottish Government has been implementing a programme of work seeking to equip all care homes in Scotland with digital devices, connectivity, and training and support to help their residents enjoy the benefits of online access.

The programme evolved as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting unprecedented challenge for everyone with a shared commitment to the health, wellbeing and welfare of vulnerable people, in particular those living in a care home setting.

The Scottish Government committed £1.5M in funding to the initiative, which is being delivered through a partnership led by Digital Health & Care within Scottish Government and Connecting Scotland, in collaboration with COSLA, the Care Inspectorate, Scottish Care and the Scottish Social Services Council.

The package available to care homes consists of iPads, Mifi dongles and data packages where necessary, and a suite of skills development opportunities for staff.

Initial outcomes

An additional part of the programme has been a small-scale close collaboration with ten care homes in Aberdeenshire, which has provided early in-depth information about residents’ usage of iPads. The feedback has been very positive with residents engaging in a variety of activities online. Approximately two-thirds of the time online was linked with past hobbies and pastimes such as music and films, but also playing games, reminiscence, and attending faith services. The remaining third of the time was split between video calls with family and friends and attending health appointments via Near Me.

Uptake so far

At the time of writing 65% of care homes in Scotland have applied for devices, of which the vast majority has already received them. The update has been greatest among services caring for adults and older people. Significantly, the programme was able to initially prioritised those care homes with no existing devices and connectivity with a view to quickly enable residents to connect with loved ones during lockdown. As a result of the quick roll-out, 130 care homes received devices and data packages prior to Christmas 2020, and their 3500 residents had the opportunity to connect digitally to support their health, wellbeing and engaging with family and friends.

[Blog is written by Rikke Iversholt, Social Care Lead, Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme, Scottish Government]

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